Alonzo Verge Jr. had never even been to Nebraska until his official visit on Monday. Still, the graduate transfer guard from Arizona State has been keeping a close eye on Lincoln for several years.
Growin up in Chicago, Verge developed a good friendship with another standout Illinois point guard that was a couple of classes ahead of him – former Husker point guard Glynn Watson.
When Watson signed with NU in 2015, Verge followed the program as closely as possible over the following four seasons.
So when Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg and lead recruiter Matt Abdelmassih reached out to him after he decided to transfer from ASU, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder already had a good feel for the Huskers.
That’s why he didn’t waste much time in announcing his commitment to NU on Thursday morning.
Nebraska had been on Arizona State grad transfer Alonzo Verge’s radar years before his commitment to the Huskers on Thursday. (Associated Press)
“I’ve kind of always had a close eye on Nebraska because one of my friends, Glynn Watson, went there, so I’ve always kind of watched them play,” Verge said. “That’s my guy, so I’ve always felt good about Nebraska.
“When Coach (Abdelmassih) reached out to me, I went on a visit, and it just felt genuine, and it felt like home. I came from a JUCO (Moberly Area Community College in Missouri), and it was real family-oriented there, and I loved it. That’s what it felt like in Nebraska.
“I just love the facilities, and I feel like (NU) has a lot to offer. I feel like I can really help those younger guys that are there and be a leader and a vocal guy that they need.”
Verge played in 51 games with 30 starts during his two seasons at Arizona State, averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while playing 28.1 minutes per game for his career.
The Chicago native was a key piece off the bench for the Sun Devils as a junior in 2019-20, averaging 14.6 ppg and dropping a career-high 43 points against St. Marys. He was named the 2020 Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year for his efforts.
A four-star junior college prospect in the 2019 class coming out of Moberly, Verge moved into the starting lineup last season and was ASU’s third-leading scorer at 14.0 ppg while starting 21 of 23 games.
He also averaged 3.8 assists and shot 33.3 percent from 3-point range, improving his 29-percent clip from behind the arc as a junior. Verge was 39.1 percent from the field and 80.9 percent from the free-throw line in ’20-21.
In the end, though, Verge said he wanted to find an offensive system more tailored to his skill set for his final collegiate season.
“I just need a more systematic style of play and something new,” Verge said. “(Arizona State) was a good learning experience for me, but I just wanted something different.
“Coach Hoiberg pays a real fast-paced game where you can get the ball out and go. That’s when I play my best. He’s kind of the opposite of (ASU head coach Bobby Hurley), just more calm and somebody I would love to go to war with.”
Before Arizona State, Verge was two-time NJCAA Division I All-American at Moberly, leading the nation in scoring as a sophomore at 30.9 ppg.
The former 2017 Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year immediately became one of the top targets when he entered the transfer portal on May 21.
He said Marquette, Arkansas, TCU, Tulsa, and several others were heavily involved in his recruitment after leaving Arizona State. But the connection he built with Hoiberg and Abdelmassih had Nebraska as the frontrunner throughout.
“Matt has just been so consistent, and I really got to know Coach Hoiberg,” Verge said. “He’s a hell of a coach, and they’re so good with transfers. So I did some research, and I just felt like it could be a really good situation for me.”
As for what he wants to accomplish during his one season as a Husker, Verge said he was far more focused on his team goals than anything individually.
“I want to win. That’s my main goal,” Verge said. “I’m a big winner. That’s really what I came to Nebraska for, is to win and help those guys win. My main goal for myself is to be that leader that the guys need. Honestly, I have no individual goals. Obviously, I want to play well, but I just want to win and take these guys to the NCAA Tournament.”